Skip to main content

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks (Fall Season)

I had a long weekend off and decided to hit the Sierras to take some folks I know around three National Parks.  In this case Saturday consisted of two National Parks; Kings Canyon and Sequoia.  I made my way up CA 180 east from Fresno to a very cold morning in the Grant Grove section of Kings Canyon National Park.  Despite being signed, CA 180 technically doesn't exist with in the bounds of the Grant Grove section of Kings Canyon National Park.






I actually did a historic brief on CA 180 east of Fresno to the bottom of King Canyon back in May on the AAroads web forum:

CA 180 Kings Canyon Highway on AAroads

What I find really interesting about CA 180 is that it was apparently envisioned as a Trans-Sierra Highway.   By 1934 when CA 180 was created there was significant logging interests within Kings Canyon itself.  The prior logging operation at Hume Lake really drove road development along the Grant Grove corridor which at the time was General Grant National Park.  By 1940 Grant Grove was absorbed into the newly created Kings Canyon National Park which essentially shut down any hopes of logging or having CA 180 cross the Sierras.  I'm greatly paraphrasing the history of CA 180 and the Grant Grove area, it really a fascinating history on what really could have been.

Given that my passengers were visiting Kings Canyon National Park for the first time I took them to the General Grant Tree.  The Grant Tree is a Redwood Sequoia and is the second largest tree in the world by volume.






Across CA 180 behind the John Muir Lodge is the Panoramic Point overlook of Kings Canyon.  Kings Canyon is cut by the branches of the Kings River and is about 8,200 feet.  The Panoramic Point Overlook is about 7,500 feet above sea level, Hume Lake can be seen directly below.






We made our way down to Hume Lake Road.  There is a hidden overlook of Kings Canyon at about 6,000 feet which has a great view of CA 180 below.





Hume Lake was created by impounding Ten Mile Creek and was once the site of a log flume that ran to Sanger.  Hume Lake Dam is the first multiple arch concrete dam in the world and it holds the lake surface to a elevation of approximately 5,200 feet.  Hume Lake actually is operated as a Christian Camp and is just outside of Kings Canyon National Park within Sequoia National Forest.



As the weather was warming up we headed south on Ten Mile Creek Road to the Generals Highway.  Rather than  rehash the history of the Generals Highway (which is extensive and fascinating) I'll just refer to one of my previous posts on this blog:

History of the Generals Highway

Crossing into Sequoia National Park I took my group to the General Sherman Tree which is the largest tree in the world by volume.









The next southbound stop in Sequoia National Park was Moro Rock.  Surprisingly there was no shuttle bus to Moro Rock which is odd on a Saturday.  There was some cloud cover at about 13,000 feet which could be observed easily from the top of Moro Rock along with some really clear views of the Kaweah River, Generals Highway, and San Joaquin Valley below.







It was a rare southbound drop down the Generals Highway for me as usually find myself heading northbound instead.  Grades are essentially a sustained 8% and the elevation drops quickly from about 6,500 feet at the Sherman Tree Grove to about 2,500 feet at the Foothills Visitor Center.











Exiting Sequoia National Park on the Generals Highway takes you to the start of CA 198 in Three Rivers.  I always like to take pictures of the 1922 Pumpkin Hollow Bridge and nearby Salt Creek Bridge.





The last stop of the day was at Lake Kaweah.  The water is about 20-25 lower in the lake than it was back in April, in fact it resembles more of a river more than a lake.  The Terminus Dam and the older alignment of CA 198 was well above the water line, I suppose it is to be expected with 110F degree days repeatedly through the summer.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Small Towns of Virginia Series - Charlotte Court House

This sleepy little rural town in Central Virginia can easily be overlooked.  Located miles from the Interstate or four lane US and Virginia Highways, Charlotte Court House in many ways is easily forgotten.  However, this tiny town of slightly over 400 residents holds a lot of Virginia and American History.

In 1799, Charlotte Court House saw the passing of the torch from an aging Patrick Henry and a young John Randolph.  The great debate over states' rights was the last for the fiery Henry and the first in public for Randolph.  Randolph would go on to serve in the US House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to Russia.  Henry, who was serving in the Virginia General Assembly representing Charlotte County at the time of the debate, died three months later.

Charlotte Court House is not the original name of the town.  Originally named The Magazine, then Daltonsburgh, followed by Marysville (which was the town's name at the time of the Henry-Randolph debate), Smithfield, and finally…

History of the Wawona Road (Yosemite National Park)

Recently I located a portion of the Old Wawona Road that was the original alignment used by wagons and early cars to get to Yosemite Valley from the south before the Wawona Tunnel was built.  Locating the Old Wawona Road was the primary driving force to head to a very dry Yosemite National Park this winter.






Generally I don't talk about the history of a route first, but in the case of the Wawona Road I thought it was particularly important to do so first.  The modern Wawona Road is approximately 28 miles in length from the north terminus of California State Route 41 at the boundary of Yosemite National Park to South Side Drive near Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley.  A good chunk of people entering Yosemite Valley use the Wawona Road which generally is considered to be the easiest route...that certainly was not always the case.

The origins of the Wawona Road are tied to the Wawona Hotel.  The first structure in the Wawona Hotel complex dates back to 1876 which was built by the Wa…

Old California State Route 41 on Road 425B

While researching the history of the Lanes Bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River I noticed an oddity on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Madera County.  Today California State Route 41 takes a crossing of the Fresno River west of the confluence with China Creek.  Back on the 1935 Map of Madera County the crossing is very clearly east of the confluence crossing on what are now Road 425B and Road 426 in Oakhurst.   CA 41 can be seen traversing southbound from Oakhurst on Road 425B towards Coarsegold on the 1935 Madera County Map.

1935 Madera County Highway Map

After viewing Road 425B on the Google Street Vehicle it was clear that the path downhill from the top of Deadwood Gulch was substantially more haggard than the modern alignment of CA 41.  I finally had occasion to visit Oakhurst today so I pulled off of modern CA 41 at Road 425B.   Immediately I was greeted by this warning sign.






Road 425B ahead was clearly a narrow road but barely wide enough for two vehicles.  T…